Sure that seems weird to start an article with, but I mean it. You can’t possibly understand what this means to me. See, when other kids my age were playing Star Wars, I was playing Captain Video. When I was a teenager drawing my own comics, my go-to was to create Captain Video comics. When I was a kid playing out in the woods behind my home, or my grandparents home, I was pretending to be Captain Video. I have been imagining and talking about this character all my life…without ever seeing the source material.
See, here’s the thing, when I was a little child, my father would tell me stories about The Shadow, The Green Hornet….and Captain Video. Out of nowhere he’d bellow “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?”. If I saw Green Lantern on Superfriends, he’d talk about the Green Hornet. Captain Kirk? Let me tell you about Captain Video! and his Video Rangers!
The big difference between characters like The Shadow and the Green Hornet vs Captain Video, is most of the adventures of the Hornet and the Shadow survived over the years. Captain Video was on TV for over 1000 episodes, but the vast majority of those tv shows were destroyed decades before I was born. As a kid I longed to see something of the character, ANYTHING of him. I was about twelve when I got my first glimpse – the trailer to the serial was included in a copy of Zacherly’s Horrible Horror, a compilation of old public domain film clips and serial trailers. I wore a hole in that part of the tape trying to eke ever ounce of Captain Video that I could from those two minuets. I wouldn’t get my hands on a copy of that serial until I was in my early thirties. About five years ago I found ONE episode of the TV show…up until then I had thought it must have only existed as a serial.
This book changes everything.
In his foreward, Roy Thomas points out that the TV show was the source material, one of the few TV shows to ever have a serial made from them (it was more common for the serial to come first). I had no idea so many episodes were produced, yet to this day, only 12 survive. Eight of them can only be viewed at UCLA, the remaing four were released on an Alpha Video DVD (and float around Youtube). Not only that, there was a spin-off planned, featuring the robot Tobar. I had NO idea. It completely changes my perspective on the series!
But that’s not the most amazing part. There were comic books.
Do you have any idea how I LONGED for Captain Video comic books when I was a kid? No, forget I asked. You can’t possibly imagine wanting something as much as I wanted Captain Video comic books, so much so that I was driven to create my own with no more reference point than a grainy trailer and my fathers fuzzy memories.
Only one other time in my entire life have I been more excited to discover a book exists, when I discovered that my favorite author Roger Zelaznay had written a second cycle to his Amber series. It’s a strange feeling, to discover a book you never even knew existed, and yet to know with utter certainty that you have been waiting for it your entire life.
Robots, laser guns, space cars (oh, and according to Roy Thomas, the inspiration for Ultron – this summer movie seasons biggest bad guy) and my Fathers greatest sci-fi hero – now in the palm of my hands.
In fact, why am I sitting here wasting time writing this post? I’m off to read my book! (and write Roy Thomas a REALLY embarrassing thank you letter)
Go read some Violent Blue.